Visit the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen (Rouen Cathedral) to marvel at its Gothic grandeur, admire magnificent sculptures and stained-glass windows and visit the vaults of famous kings. The beautiful cathedral dates back to the 12th century and stands on the site of a former 4th-century church. French impressionist Claude Monet immortalized the Gothic cathedral in his famous Rouen Cathedral Series.
A major highlight of the cathedral is its intricately designed exterior. Look for sculptures above the Porte Central (main door), which symbolize the family tree of Jesus. Sculptures above the Porte St-Jean (left door) and Porte St-Etienne (right door) portray the martyrdoms of St. John the Baptist and St. Stephen. Look up at the three soaring spires. The iron- and bronze-plated Tour Lanterne is the most impressive and is almost 500 feet (150 meters) tall.
Inside, the cathedral is a veritable treasure trove of art and history. See colorful stained-glass windows representing scenes from medieval times to the early Renaissance period. View sculptures of famous saints and the elegant l'Escalier des Libraires (Stairway Booksellers). Admire the imposing pillars and vaulted arcades.
Don’t miss the tombs of noblemen and royalty. These include the crypt of Rollo, Duke of Normandy. Most famous of all is a tomb that containing the heart of Richard the Lionheart, King of England.
Located at the heart of Rouen’s historic city center, the cathedral is within walking distance of other major city attractions. Stroll along the architecturally impressive Rue des Gros Horloge, home to the opulent Gros Horloge clock. Visit Place du Vieux Marché (Old Market Square) to see the modern Église Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc (Church of St. Joan of Arc). Public buses stop near the cathedral. The closest tram stop is Théâtre des Arts, a 5-minute walk away.
Rouen Cathedral is open daily. Admission is free. Guided tours of the baptistery, chapel and crypt are available on weekends and weekdays during school holidays. The cathedral is an active place of worship; dress appropriately and remain quiet when visiting. Check the cathedral’s official website for more information on opening times, tours and concerts.